The Ministry of Health will distribute 27,270,933 insecticide-treated nets to all Ugandans. The nets are a donation from the Global Fund (GF), the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), UNITAID and the Against Malaria Foundation (AMF).
These shipments were received by National Medical Stores (NMS) on behalf of the Department of Health and are being distributed free of charge by NMS.
However, there have been several complaints that some communities received hard and rough mosquito nets during the previous campaign. Note that during the upcoming # NetCampaign2020, NMS will only be selling long-lasting, durable, soft and smooth mosquito nets. Malaria is endemic in around 95 percent of Uganda and remains the most common fatal disease.
According to the Ministry of Health, there was a spike in malaria across the country in June 2019 due to a prolonged rainy season, which increased the incidence of malaria by more than 400,000 cases, an increase of 40 percent from a million cases in 2018.
The surge in malaria cases has since affected nearly half the country, affecting around 65 districts – mainly in the high-pollution regions in Busoga, Teso, West Nile, northern Uganda and the Karamoja sub-region. Seasonally, there is a high number of malaria cases between June and July due to the rainy season.
In addition, due to the unpredictable periods of rain that temporarily extend beyond the periods of time, many families have become vulnerable to the effects of climate change, increasing the likelihood of malaria incidents throughout the year.
At least 27.7 percent of inpatient deaths among children under five were also attributed to malaria.
As part of an effort to fight malaria, the government and development partners have provided free mosquito-treated nets to all households across the country to help reduce malaria prevalence.
In addition, approaches to addressing malaria public health concerns have not fully exploited the family-based model of health promotion, and there is still a challenge in homesteads that continue to grapple with increased incidences of malaria and other illnesses affecting children’s lives and Adult demand.
This is because access to education and information, as well as raising awareness among the population at the family level, about practices that have undermined the proper use of mosquito nets, environmental care and hygiene in their communities are limited, making the community vulnerable to malaria elevated.
Efforts have been made by both the government and some development partners to make it easier for communities to adopt behavioral changes and good malaria control practices.
However, gaps have been identified that need to be addressed in community capacity building, including the ability to become resilient to address major health challenges, particularly the malaria epidemic.
Some Ugandans are unable to purchase new and treated mosquito nets to replace aging ones that were purchased for free. There are also false beliefs among the population that a mosquito net is not worth spending valuable time repairing for reuse. Many people have preferred to continue sleeping under torn mosquito nets.
Cases where some community members use mosquito nets to catch white ants, fish, chicks, etc. are common. This uncontrolled abuse of mosquito nets is partly responsible for the spiral of malaria cases and deaths. It is our responsibility to ensure that these mosquito nets are used properly to prevent malaria.
Mr. Odong is the Public Relations Officer for the National Medical Stores (NMS).